10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s Tennis Preview And Prediction For The Barcelona Final: Nadal vs. Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsisipas from Greece in action against Pablo Carreno from Spain during their semi final match at the 66th Barcelona Open Trofeo Conde de Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 28 April 2018. EPA-EFE/Alejandro Garcia



By Ricky Dimon


Stefanos Tsitsipas is reaping the benefits of what has been a positively a breakout year for him on the ATP Tour. His latest reward is not one–aside from being a valuable experience–-that anyone else would envy right now.


Tsitsipas’ 2018 hot streak has carried him into the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, and with it a clay-court contest against Rafael Nadal on Sunday. Needless to say, this is just about the worst possible scenario in which Tsitsipas could stage his first-ever meeting with Nadal: on clay, in Spain, and amidst the pressure of a title match.


Still, if they were all playing for second place when the event began, Tsitsipas has certainly earned that distinction. Building on quarterfinal finishes in Doha and Dubai earlier in 2018 plus a second-round performance last week in Monte-Carlo, the 19-year-old Greek has advanced in Barcelona by defeating Corentin Moutet, Diego Schwartzman, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Dominic Thiem, and Pablo Carreno Busta all in straight sets. Tsitsipas is up to No. 63 in the world and can climb as high as 44th even if he loses this one.


“I couldn’t have enjoyed [the semifinal match] more,” Tsitsipas noted. “I went onto the court and enjoyed every single moment. I am very proud of myself and also I believe I made my country proud.”


He became the first player from Greece to reach an ATP finals since 1973.


Just as in Monte-Carlo, Nadal must capture the title to avoid slipping back to second in the world behind Roger Federer. There is no reason to expect he will fail in that effort, as he has won an insane 44 straight clay-court sets dating back to last spring following victories over Roberto Carballes Baena, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Martin Klizan, and David Goffin. Moreover, Nadal has won this tournament an incredible (albeit about average by his standards!) 10 times and sports a 57-3 lifetime record.


“I have watched millions of his matches on clay,” Tsitsipas said of tNadal. “I know the way he is playing and, I think, the way he is going to play against me. I was preparing for this match already, 10 years (ago). I’m going to go out there, enjoy it, and play my best.”


“Stefanos is a great player,” the top seed added. “Always the young players have something special and he’s playing with big confidence,. He’s playing so well, so it’s going to be a very tough match.”


Nadal always says that and is almost never correct. Nothing has been difficult for him in Barcelona aside from a competitive opening set against Klizan, and something similarly competitive with Tsitsipas on the other side of the net would be a surprise. A consistent diet of heavy topspin forehands to the teenager’s one-handed backhand should help Nadal coast to title No. 11 in front of the home fans.

Pick: Nadal in 2


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *